TDs receiving a 2% pay rise during the pandemic is an 'absolute disgrace', Solidarity - People Before Profit TD Mick Barry says.
TDs are set to have their wages increased to just over €100,000 within the next few months, with senators' pay also set to increase to around €70,000.
It comes as part of a pay increase to higher earners within the public sector, with their wages now being restored to levels previously reached back in 2008.
Deputy Barry told The Hard Shoulder it's outrageous that this is happening at the moment, and believes wages should be frozen this year.
He said: "People [are living] to the pin of their collar in this pandemic, and at the same time TDs are being paid more than €100,000.
“I’m a workers’ TD on a worker’s wage… which means I don’t take home any more than the average worker. We donate our salaries back, in order to build a fight to change society.
“Freeze the wages for this year. There are people out there trying to keep a roof over their heads… put food on the table… just barely surviving on a pandemic unemployment payment.”
The Cork TD said he doesn't believe politicians can understand the experience of normal people unless you’re “living the same type of lifestyle”.
Taking home only an average wage, he has instead donated the remaining salary to the likes of strike funds, Repeal the 8th campaign and the anti-water charges movement.
In terms of this pay increase, he said he and his party colleagues will be using it to fund campaigns they support rather than 'handing money back to the State in order the pay the bondholders'.
'This isn't something they sought'
Former minister Nora Owen, meanwhile, said this increase isn’t something TDs have asked for, and is instead linked to public sector pay.
She said: “Around 2000-01, there was an introduction of a system where the TDs’ and senators’ wage would be linked to a principal officer’s wage - if a principal officer was getting an increase, the Dáil members got an increase.
“That’s what’s happening now: there’s a 2% increase coming for over 300,000 public servants, and the TDs are benefitting from that.”
She acknowledged it is a ‘difficult time’ to explain to the public why TDs should get a pay increase, but stressed it’s not something the politicians sought themselves.
She pointed to the legislation allowing politicians to give part of their salaries back to the State.
However, she said she doesn’t believe all TDs or senators should be forced to do so.
Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín has previously called on TDs to support a proposed bill, which would mandate a 25% pay cut for TDs and senators while the country is in lockdown.